Friday, May 31, 2019

What They Leave Behind

I'd already published this story on Wattpad and couldn't send out for a sub.  (My long forgotten Watpadd account) 

So I share here, it's a little early, and slightly over the 1K mark. The beginning was taken from a true life event. Of missing time and a head wound from when I was five years old living on an Air Force Base in Caribou, Maine. I remember that day very clearly. 

   What They Leave Behind   

I heard a helicopter. The leaves soaked with sunshine made them translucent, but I couldn’t see anything. A clear summer day, and I was playing with friends near the Air Force base. Helicopters certainly weren’t unusual. 
Helicopters and sunlight, those were my only recollection. When I came out from under the trees a friend shouted, “What happened to your head?”
Sure enough, I found a wet, warm spot, and had a look. It was blood. Definitely blood. My head didn’t hurt and I had no idea what happened. I know now, the head can bleed profusely, but I was only ten years old.
I walked home and my mother approached, fast and frightened, asking what happened.
“That’s probably when it started.” I turned to Doctor Murphy. “ . . . the missing time. Isn’t that what they say?”
“The Abducted. They always mention missing time, and ...”
I stopped. I wasn’t sure what they said. I might have heard Dillon say something once. Dillon’s kept my head straight, through all this.
“What about the other time, with Sadie?” he asked.
“That’s why I’m here.” I settled back. I much preferred the times when I couldn’t remember anything. This wasn’t going to be fun.
“Sadie and I were walking, out on 9D. It was dark, as you know. It was last Monday just after the sunset. There were lights floating around, orbs or  balls …”
I had to take a breath I couldn’t control the wretched pain in my stomach. The wave machine and my hands were shaking.
I rub my sweaty hands on my pants and re-crossed my legs, stiff from sitting too long. I’d hate to lie down, never know if he’d wiped the couch.
“Just go slow,” the doctor said.
Yes, slow, but the images don’t run in slow motion.
“The darkness was unreal and with the new moon, we could see the stars to infinity. We walked toward the river, and at first our legs slowed, and then our arms wouldn’t move. I looked at Sadie. Her face vibrated, every line and crease. The trees started vibrating and hummed, like maybe they were slowing down too. Or matter was breaking up? It’s hard to put into words. Dillon said that happens.”
Doctor Murphy’s glasses dropped to his nose. “You and Sadie hadn’t been drinking? Or anything?”
What if we’d used drugs? We didn’t, but come on.  It’s a judgment call. He’s calling it. My gaze drifted outside of his home-office window. His daughter played with dolls near the woods. “That’s when we saw it.”
 “Is that when they took her?” he asked, his jowl flexed.
He must love this part and wanted me to say it again. Why I had to go over it, over and over? I nodded. “They said they were watching, and that Sadie had a contract with them.”
“Is that what they said to you?”
“It’s not like we talked, but yeah, they did. Said her family made contact years ago. Why don’t you ask them a few questions? Honestly, I think you really should.”
I couldn’t breathe again, the room spun, and to ground myself, I watched the little girl through the window. Dust particles floated on the beam of sunlight. I wanted to float away with the dust.
“Why do you suppose they didn’t take you?” he asked.
“They said they did, many times. My number wasn’t up, I guess? Not that day, anyway.” I laughed, but it wasn’t funny. My nerves were impossible to tamper down. They were always watching. I screamed for them to release her.
“That was only a week ago.”
“Yes, Kylie and you’re still under investigation for Sadie’s disappearance. I believe you I do. I’ve heard a case or two similar to yours, and yes, there was missing time as well. But to get the police to believe it, and a lawyer, not so easy.”
“Unless she comes back,” I said, hopefully.
 “Yes, if she comes back.”
“They hang around military bases, you know, like the one in Maine, where I used to live as a kid.”
Doctor Murphy stood up. “The officers are here.” He put down his clipboard, and briefly checked on his daughter from the window before leaving to greet the officers, waiting in the other room.
“Time’s up,” said officer Frank.
I was already standing, and he took my arms by force. I didn’t resist. Doctor Murphy winced.
I told them everything I saw. How Sophie split in two: one bubble and one transparent body, a duplicate of herself. Her “earthly” body or what every you want to call it, disappeared without a trace. I’m the only trace. Everything leads to me.
Doctor Murphy said he believed me, but I don’t buy it. I’m escorted, or more accurately, towed to the police car. Head shoved under and in like a deranged killer.
Where’s the body. Just tell us where the body is? I stopped telling them what happened to her body.
Years ago, while listening to the radio, the music changed to a song that answered the question on my mind. It got my attention. The lights flickered in response and I knew they were there. “How long have you been doing this?” I whispered.
The song, Time After Time by Cindy Lauper played, the station was set to a rock-n-roll only broadcast.
“For years?” I asked. “What did you do to me when I was ten years old?”
You are here to help the others. This earthy role is not your own. It’s not good to know too much or you won’t want to stay.
I felt lighter after that, but it only lasted a couple of years. The cooperative feeling dissolved when my dog was killed. I knew it was them. Blood drained from his little terrier body. Why my dog? Never an explanation only cruelty. They were sloppy enough to leave a sticky residue: bioluminescent fluid they leave behind like slugs. There were traces left behind on the radio dial after our “conversation”.
What if the police found bioluminescent residue near the river? Would that create enough doubt? Investigations were done during the day. They never saw it glowing at night? “I need to call my lawyer,” I speak through the wire mesh.
“Yes, at the Station.”
After being shut inside the holding tank, I waited for my parents and the lawyer. I was innocent, and no one believed what really happened. Why were they making me suffer? The bully-aliens didn’t stick around to take the heat. Gonna let the human go down for it?
The bunk was cold and without a blanket to keep warm, I crossed my arms and started to cry. I was lost. Even Dillon couldn’t help me now.
A ball of light floated into the room and bounced about before settling at the foot of the bunk.
“You’re crying,” it was Sadie’s voice.
“Sadie, is that you?”
“Yes, Kylie, I can see you.”
“Are you all right?”
“I’m perfect. But you, I had no idea.”
“What? That you could disappear without a trace and it wouldn’t look suspicious?”
“You’re going to be fine,” she said.
“What are they doing to you?”
“I’m fulfilling my agreement. My parents will come, and you too, Kyle, have a family here. They wait for your “timing”.
“But I already have a family.”
“Here, you have two boys and a daughter. Your daughter plays with mine.”
I sat up; the metal surface pressed against my bones. Was I hallucinating?
The orb grew and I saw Sadie through its sheen like an otherworldly God, and she smiled.
“I have another family?”
“Yes, Kylie, and your dog is here.”
I rubbed my eyes. I rubbed them so much,  I was sure my eyelashes would fall off. “When do I get to see them?” The request was more of a dare.
“Are you ready to leave your parents and this world?”
I glanced around the jail cell.
 “Come Kylie, fall into the orb. It was a little soon, but we decided we couldn’t continue to let you suffer what you didn’t do. I’ll bring you to them.”
The light orb danced and grew larger. Sadie stood there, bright as day, looking much the same, only more beautiful and filled with light. Or bioluminescence?
Footsteps marched down the hall. I heard my mother’s voice. I’d miss my family. But how do I know I don’t miss my other family?
“Come, Kylie, the conduit is closing.”
I stood and leaped into the orb.
The cell door opened.
My father and the guard entered first. They must have seen something because Momma put her hands over her mouth. The guard reached out. Then their heads fixed on the ceiling.
I floated with Sadie inside the orb. I’m not sure they saw me, but then Dad yelled that the light was too bright. Momma began crying and clutching at the air.
I wanted to tell her I’d see her again.

             The End

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

MG Book Review: Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh.

Spirit HuntersSpirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reposted from my review on the Kidliteri Blog

Twelve-year-old Harper Raine and her family have relocated from New York City to DC during the heat of summer. There’s much to get used to, the incessant heat, and the “gothic charm” of their new house and the renovations.

Her four-year-old brother, Michael is oblivious, and it’s very strange that his room is cold with an unnatural chill when she visits, and he tells her about his new friend, Billy, pointing to a corner.

Michael is frustrated Harper can’t see him. His words trigger a memory of Harper’s when she was five-years-old when she had a best friend her older sister couldn’t see either.
“Billy doesn’t like when you call his house stupid.”

Harper covers for Michael when he tries telling their mother. She doesn’t like things she can’t understand. Harper doesn’t understand either.

Nothing has been the same since Harper’s accident. Reviewing her memory book, an "unfinished jigsaw puzzle", that had one missing piece. Unable to remember anything about the fire at school, when she was hospitalized with several broken bones. "It’s what the mind does to forget terrible tragedy." Did she really want to remember what happened?

With the move, Harper’s Korean grandmother lives closer, and she can’t wait to see her. But her mother won’t speak to her. She hasn’t in years. Harper misses her grandmother terribly, and through all the hauntings, and missing memories, Harper works to reunite them. Turns out, Grandma has a few surprises.

Ooh, I LOVED this fun, spooky middle-grade book! The ghosts were truly evil and SCARY! Harper has to go through several hoops to save her brother, and her older sister blames her for the move to D.C. One of my favorite scenes is Harper confronting a salesperson who’s a racist, and she sticks up for herself! The author is the founder of “We Need Diverse Books”.

The first in a series, I can’t wait to read the follow-up, ISLAND OF MONSTERS, for more spooky-fun! Out now!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Ghosts in Tight Spaces" My 1K Speculative Short Fiction Series.

Hello Everyone! 

I wrote a collection of 1k slipstream/ speculative shorts a while back and decided to share them with you on my blog. 

This collection from GHOSTS IN TIGHT SPACES  is for readers of all ages. 
Every few weeks, I'll feature one story. Hope you enjoy it!

1. A Cellar
2. The Department Store
3. An Office
4. A Garage
5. An Alley
6. A Restaurant
7. The Boat
8. A Library
9. The Woods
10. The Computer 

Today I bring you ... 

            The Cellar

“Momma. What’s that sound?” Kaitlin clutched her mother's arm.
“I'm sure it's just the hockey gear in the cellar. Must have fallen again,” her mother assured her.
Uneasy, Mrs. Hall stood from the couch and left her ten-year-old daughter watching TV. "It happens when the winds pick up in the mountains." 
It was their special night alone. Mr. Hall and Kaitlin’s brother were out watching a game. With the storm coming she expected them home soon.
On a direct course for the basement near the kitchen, Mrs. Hall grabbed the handle and hesitated before turning the knob. 
Standing above the pit of darkness, she switched the light on. Then proceeded down the steps.
“What is it, Momma?” Kaitlin waited at top of the stairs.
“I’m sure it’s nothing. I’ll check on the rabbits, don’t worry.
“Can I come down?”
“Wait there and switch the light on if it goes out.”
Kaitlin’s breath was heavy and labored. The humidity had brought on her asthma. Mrs. Hall padded down the fifteen steps to the bottom.
The basement light went out. “Kaitlin!” her mother shouted. The faulty wire, again?
“Got it!” The light was back.
Ever since the Hall family had moved into 105 Essex, the blackouts were all too frequent. Not unheard of in the windy mountains of Western Pennsylvania. On some days, even without the wind, the lights went out.
There were occasions when the neighbor’s lights went out during a storm, the lights at 105 Essex would still be on. Or vise-versa. It was almost as if 105 Essex had its own energy supply.
At the bottom of the steps, Mrs. Hall tiptoed around the corner where the rabbits were busy munching. Not sure why she kept them in the basement instead of the art shack in the backyard. It was warmer there.
The rabbits looked up with their usual nervous twitches. One finishing a carrot and not the least bit disturbed about anything unnatural.
And then BANG!
Mrs. Hall jumped.
“Kaitlin, are you all right?”
“Yes, Momma. Are Pinkie and Peppy, Okay?”
Mrs. Hall searched among the junk in the cellar for the piece of furniture or athletic accessory that must have fallen. When she was satisfied all was fine, Mrs. Hall reached into the pen and picked up Pinkie, the white rabbit with brown patches.
“Can I see the bunnies?” Kaitlin called down the steps. “Please?”
“Sure, come on. Just watch your step.”
 “I’ve got, Pinkie.” Kaitlin scooped the rabbit up from her mother’s hands.
“Not too long,” her mother said, “Your asthma’s already kicking up.”
Kaitlin nodded. “And Peppy, I don’t want you to get jealous.” She replaced Pinkie in favor of Peppy.
Hearing another sound in the far corner, Mrs. Hall moved away from the pen, while Kaitlin talked to the rabbits.
Not only did the new house enjoy its own light display, it often seemed to try its hand at redecorating, and favored the basement for its antics.
As suspected, the skis had fallen on top of the hockey equipment set-aside for the season. Turning to see Kaitlin, movement caught her eye.
But it was nothing, must have been her imagination.
Lifting the skis, she was glad she’d moved the rabbits days ago. From her position, she couldn’t see Kaitlin or the rabbits.
After she finished positioning the equipment, she passed the cellar window and found it open. “Must have been a raccoon,” she said turning the knob. The window squeaked shut. “There, that should keep them out.”
Would raccoons hurt the rabbits? Mrs. Hall wondered. She made a mental note to move the bunnies out of the basement tomorrow morning.
Her daughter was gone and so were the rabbits. “Kaitlin, you can’t take the rabbits upstairs,” she called and trudged up the steps.
“I didn’t put Edgar away. Could you bring the dog leash?” Mrs. Hall reached the top step and the basement door slammed shut.
 “Kaitlin, please open the door!” she shouted and turned the knob. It was locked. “Kaitlin!”
The basement lights flickered. Not again.
 “Kaitlin! Open this door, right now!” Mrs. Hall knocked harder and harder.
There was no answer.
Racing down the basement steps, then across the room to the back exit she noticed the window she’d just closed was open. 
  Her first thought: there’s a raccoon in the basement. “Ridiculous, raccoons cannot open windows.” Her heart raced. Mrs. Hall’s throat was dry and she coughed nearly choking on the air.
She lifted the metal bar across the basement door. It leads to the back yard. But she could not push the door open.
She was trapped. Mrs. Hall banged against the door with the full weight of her body.
Who would hear her out back? It was woodland for miles?
Kaitlin wasn’t answering. She must have gone to her bedroom to play with the rabbits.
Sweat rose over Mrs. Hall’s lip. The basement was stifling enough, and it was humid, she couldn’t breathe. As though oxygen was being siphoned out of the basement.
Unable to leave through the basement door, she turned ran up the staircase. “Kaitlin!” she shouted knocking at the door.
The blender turned on. Or was it the juicer? Both?
The walls rattled.
Pounding the door, over and over, her knuckles cracked open and splintered in red. Mrs. Hall kept knocking until her hands numbed and then she stopped.
Exasperated, she slid to the floor with her back against the door, listening to each and every electrical appliance in the kitchen grind and whirl.
Then basement lights went off. Darkness enveloped her. The grinding of the motors grew more deafening. 
 “Kaitlin,” she whispered.
Reading her watch, it was 9:00 PM, she hoped her husband and son would be home soon. She was sure Kaitlin was playing in her bedroom with the rabbits, two flights up, and being a very bad girl.
There was no excuse for this. Even if Kaitlin wasn’t feeling well. “Kaitlin!” She knocked one last time. Her head fell back against the door, the whirling and grinding continued on the other side.
And then, the house became silent.
Everything stopped.
Checking her watch, it was 9:30 PM.
Something rustled under the pile of newspapers at the bottom of the steps. With the lights out, Mrs. Hall made her way down, one hand held the wall. The rabbits must be loose. “Kaitlin?”
The lights went on.
A willowy silhouette wavered. She screamed and raced up the steps and the basement door flew open just as she reached the top.
“What were you doing down there?” It was Mr. Hall.
“Harold!” They embraced. “Shut the door,” she ordered. “Where’s Kaitlin?”
“She isn’t with you?” Mr. Hall said.
“In her room!” She ran up to the second floor. “Kaitlin?”
“Hi, Mom.” It was Jack.
“Where’s Kate?”
“You didn’t see her?”
Mr. Hall went from room to room calling her daughter’s name. Kaitlin’s room was empty. The lights were off.
She hadn’t been here at all. Perspiration enclosed Mrs. Hall in the debilitating heat. A sickening malaise gripped her throat. In a panic and confused, she forced a breath. “We have to find her!”
Harold checked under the furniture. “She must be hiding somewhere.”
Mrs. Hall passed the large bay window that faced the woods. She caught a glimpse of her daughter’s pink dress and ran outside onto the deck. “Kaitlin!” 
Her daughter didn’t take any notice of her call and she was walking into the woods “Kaitlin!” Mrs. Hall repeated until she stood beside her. “What are you doing? Why aren’t you listening to me?”
Kaitlin turned slowly. She was covered in mud and twigs.
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Hall asked again.
“He told me to set the rabbits free . . . in the woods.”
“He?” She pulled her daughter close to her heart. “Is that where they are now? In the woods?”
Kaitlin nodded, half-hidden under her mother’s embrace.
Mrs. Hall sighed with relief and turned where her husband stood on the deck above the cellar’s back door.
The lights were on and a dark shadow stood there.
“He’s waiting for you,” her daughter said. “He has another request.”

The End
*Okay, it was a little over 1k.   :)